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Tracer is a fast-paced, arcade-type game with roots that pre-date the modern computer. Fortunately, Tracer brings a fresh, exciting approach at a pace that will keep you on your toes. To quote:
"Think fast... or your next move might be your last.", "A lethal computer virus (the Tracer virus) has locked onto your digital signature. As one of four hired computer hackers, you must arrange colored code pads that take you closer to the data core and away from the virus that will eliminate you. The only way out of your predicament is to go deeper and hope to lose the virus in the complex maze of the data core. The further you venture, the more complicated your paths become, and your own mind is your only compass."
The year is 2023 and you're flying into New York at night to work on a contract that's being handed down to you. The impressive 3D movie includes some interesting details as you realize that you've just flown into JFK airport. Try to notice how much it's costing you for a cab. I'm not looking forward to paying those prices.
After the introduction, your menu pops up giving you access to Cyberspace, a net game, choice of characters, your preferences and whether you want to see the intro movie again. Once you've selected a character, you're off into Cyberspace.
After making your first move, the virus begins tracking directly for you by eating away the code pads you've placed, so be quick. You must put down the multicolored pads so that you have a continuous path to your destination. You may have to rotate the pad you're about to place in order for the next pad to work. Strategy is important, but you have very little time to develop it as the pads change each time you refill. Special pads enable you to slow down the virus, move across "micro-chasms" and up to raised grid levels. The object is to find the exit for the level and move on till you find the data core. The difficulty increases with each level as more and more elements are added for you to use and to slow you down.
A nice feature that will help you to plan a strategy is the zoom function. You can zoom in or out to have a better look at what you're facing and can continue to play at any zoom level. As you pull back, more of the level is revealed, but some of the details become fuzzy. It's up to you to find which view is best to play. As you play, you accumulate various special pads and take them with you from level to level. It is therefore recommended that you save your position after each level, because if the virus gets you, you lose all you've accumulated and have to start from scratch.
The graphics are well done in 3D and your character will do a little dance while you take time to think. But don't think too long!! Many other visual elements make up a level, but not all of them are useful to you, so be sure what they are before you go after them. The music is a fast paced dance rhythm that will also help keep you on your toes.
Installation is a breeze. All you have to do, assuming your CD's autoplay function is turned on, is to put the CD Rom into your player. The software will take you through all the steps necessary to ensure a proper installation. Once installed, when you put the CD into your player, the game will start on it's own, but only if you created the default directories specified in the installation.
The suggested 256 color setting should be your choice for playing the game. The images reproduce more clearly in a higher resolution, but you may run into problems when you exit the program.
Other special features include a four part tutorial to help you through the various elements of the game as well as a detailed level editor to create customized levels. The editor has a built in validation function so that you don't try to do anything the game can't handle. All aspects of a level can be modified which in itself can be a challenge. A multi-player option is also available to play others via modem. The reviewed copy had this component missing, but was available via an 800 number to the company and was free.
Click here for screen shots.
8-bit MPC compatible sound card.
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